Industrial Relations Between the Union, State, Miners, and Police Essay example

Industrial Relations Between the Union, State, Miners, and Police Essay example

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During the 1980s, Trade Unions encountered significant challenges and losses, this occurred against a backdrop of rapid expansion and influence. Before the 1979 conservative election victory it was distinctively voluntarist, with minor legislative intervention. (Gallie et al, 1996).Two strikes in particular, the miners’ strike and the News International industrial dispute changed the face of Industrial Relations in the UK. The conduct and outcome of the disputes led to significant changes with regards to the role of the state, the role of employers and the power of the unions in contemporary Industrial relations. This essay will critically evaluate the conduct of the unions, the state, the miners and the police, it will consider the changing role of the state and the police towards industrial action and the effect the conduct and outcome of the strike has had on present day industrial relations.
Before the 1984 miners’ strike, the NUM was in a very strong powerful position, having defeated the government in 1972 and 1974 over wage levels. However unlike 1984, the miners voted overwhelmingly to back the union and strike, thus causing severe disruption as the UK was heavily dependent on coal at that time. Certainly, it was believed that these defeats contributed to the downfall of the previous conservative government in 1974. (Richards, 1996), since the Government had to call a state of emergency, the strikers remained united and not a single miner broke either strike. Consequently in 1974 the Government called the general election and famously asked “who governs Britain “the government or the miners? (Beynon)
The 1984 strike, in comparison was a fight to save jobs and mining communities, the conservative government had regained po...

... middle of paper ...

...pular tactic is to threaten to damage an employer’s reputation. (Personnel today, 2012). ACAS, on the other hand point to the positive role played by unions in resolving workplace disputes and that union officials were more inclined to assume a conciliatory rather than antagonistic approach when negotiating with employers. (ACAS, 2011)

In conclusion, employment relations have changed considerably since the 1980s. The falls in union membership triggered initially by the miners and print unions defeats, along with the legal constraints surrounding unions which were introduced by the conservative government and mostly retained by the labour party have all combined to reduce the impact of trade unions on present day employment relations. However unions and employers are adapting to these changes and adopting different approaches to managing industrial relations.

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